Going out in style: Sy & Kwon in the RBA Charles Sy, tenor.

Going out in style: Sy & Kwon in the RBA

Jenna Simeonov

To mark their exit from the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, tenor Charles Sy and pianist Hyejin Kwon gave a polished performance of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin.

They’re called Les Adieux concerts, these graduation performances from outgoing members of the COC’s young artist programme, and it’s noteworthy that the concerts are usually focused around art song, rather than opera. In comparison with other young artist programmes of the world’s major opera houses, the COC Ensemble Studio is fairly young, and remarkably versatile. It’s common for new members to join the Ensemble Studio without much professional operatic experience on a scale as large as the COC; yet Toronto’s tapestry of small companies, dedicated to hiring young singers and presenting creative shows, seem to contribute to the versatility in Canada’s young singers.

It seems appropriate that the Les Adieux concerts show off a side to these singers that’s rarely seen on the COC mainstage. For Sy, this was the first undertaking of Schubert’s behemoth song cycle, and his performance had a beautiful balance of fresh youthfulness, and careful thought. He took enormous risks in vocal colour, nailing just about all of those choices; the detail work was impressive, and his sound has settled into something unique and warm. At the piano, Kwon did some of the finest work we’ve heard of hers. She was a true partner soloist, a rich sound painting clear pictures.

Charles Sy and Hyejin Kwon perform in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Photo: Tanner Davies.

The pair took calculated risks, showing off their personalities and opinions on Die schöne Müllerin; still, they stayed within a world of sound that spoke to a great respect for Schubert’s writing.

The odds are good that we’ll hear Sy and Kwon again in Toronto. To stay in the loop, follow Sy on Twitter at @TenoreCharChar.

For a full line-up of the remaining events in the 2016-17 season of the Free Concert Series, click here.

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